Thursday, May 4, 2017

Introduction to the proposal

Baptistery, Pisa
Baptistery interior showing window placement on the first level

Competition announced

In  September 2016, the Opera della Primaziale Pisana proclaimed a public competition among artists for the design and execution of four stained glass windows to replace four 19th century examples now beyond repair, inserted in the first story of Pisa Cathedral Baptistery, in the Cathedral Place, Pisa. Read more: Link

Diagram of existing windows


In January 2017, the Opera announced that the Board of Examiners, after having scrutinized the applications received and, in particular, taken note of the curricula and the works performed by the artists and workshops proponents, identified in complete agreement the artists, connected to their respective laboratories, chosen to participate in the second phase of the competition.
The list is below, in alphabetical order:

Introduction to my proposal

I visited the Baptistery in late February 2017 and spent a week in Pisa doing research. I paid particular attention to the remaining original windows in the stained glass cycle and observed the light at several times of day to thoroughly understand the transparency of the glass. I also made note of the order of the panels and looked for repetitions and instances of symmetry in the design and placement of the existing panels. In this proposal, I will explain my design for each of the new panels and my choice of location in the baptistery. In each instance, I will refer to one of the existing panels which I choose as a model for the new window.

Rendering of the complete cycle with my designs in place

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Design for Giuseppe Toniolo Window

Blessed Guiseppe Toniolo

Father, Husband Teacher – Faith in Everyday Life

The first design I will offer is the panel showing Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo. I have selected location #9 for the placement of this panel. I have 2 reasons for this choice. The first is the light the window receives. This panel faces southwest and will receive very strong sun during the whole of the afternoon.  The figure of Toniolo wears 19th-century clothing which typically was dark in color. This combination will allow me to select strong dark colors of glass for this window that will better control the light.
Location of windows 9 & 10
Secondly, the committee stated that the Figure of San Ranieri would remain in its original location in Position 10. Placing Toniolo in Position 9 will keep the 2 Pisan saints together in the overall program of windows.

Tito Gordini, St. John the Evangelist
(Location 1)

I based the proportions of the figure, border, and canopy on the original window in location # 1. This panel is located directly opposite the gallery. The canopy above the figure relates to the stonework on the exterior of the baptistry particularly.
Toniolo rendering

Toniolo leadline

The Figure of Toniolo

I want my portrait of Toniolo to be recognizable. My image was adapted from his official portrait chosen by the “Comitato per la causa Beatifcazione.”

His right hand rests on a stack of documents, including the Rerun Novarum which influenced his philosophy. His left hand holds a scroll with the words Fede, Scienza, Obbedienza from his thoughts on Catholic Social Reform.

I visited Toniolo’s rooms which are now a museum in Pisa. Seeing his home and his personal belongings inspired these additional elements in the design:

  • His reading glasses are shown on his vest.
  • A devoted spouse, his wedding band is shown on his left hand. 
  • A small whistle that he used when playing with his children hangs around his neck. His fatherhood is further suggested by the 19th-century wooden toy on the floor.  
  • The leaves in the blue background behind the figure and graphic elements in the border are adapted from the wallpaper in his home.

The upper panel and lower panels

The upper panel shows the seal of the University of Pisa with the motto: “IN SUREMAE DIGNITATIS 1343”

The oak leaves and golden acorns are from his law degree which hangs in his home. They also symbolize wisdom and strength.

The ornamentation behind the pointed arch is a library shelf with the titles of the many written works attributed to Toniolo.

The medallion in the lower panel shows Toniolo with his students within the courtyard of the Palazzo della Sapienza at the University of Pisa where his classes were held.

Design for Saint Ranieri Window

Saint Ranieri 

Patron Saint of Pisa

The San Ranieri window placement was already stated by the committee for position 10. This panel faces south-west and will receive very strong sun during the whole of the afternoon.  I will again use dark colors of glass appropriate to control the light.
Window 4

Some of the colors and elements in my design were inspired by the remaining fragments of the original glass in panel 10. However, this window is not an attempt to remake the original panel. Additional elements were based on the canopies and borders in the windows in locations # 4 & 5 as these panels seemed to have been treated in a similar manner in the original program.

San Ranieri rendering

San Ranieri leadline

The Figure of San Ranieri

My image was adapted from several icons and historic representations of San Ranieri located the museums and churches of Pisa. I also added some anatomical details from a contemporary citizen of Pisa who had the general physical characteristics of the Saint’s likeness.

The design elements were inspired by San Ranieri’s life story:

  • Born in Pisa to a wealthy merchant family, Ranieri abandons his rich purple and green robe and takes on the hair shirt of the penitent. 
  • The humble saint is depicted bare-footed.
  • Simple rosary beads hang from his pilgrim’s staff.
  • He carries the image of Pisa, represented by the Cathedral and Tower, in his left arm close to his heart.
  • His  gaze invites the viewer to look toward the altar

The lower panel and upper panels

The lower panel shows the iconic scene from Ranieri’s life, depicted in the fresco cycle in the Camposanto Monumentale. Inspired by his conversations with the hermit Alberto from Corsica, the young Ranieri sails from Pisa to Jerusalem where he has his conversion experience.

When I asked contemporary people in the cafĂ©’s, museums and the university about San Ranieri, everyone spoke of the luminaire that marks his saint’s day celebration.  The lighting of the buildings with candles recalls the holy procession that moved his remains to the Cathedral in the 16th Century. The candles I’m depicting in the border and on the architectural canopy will be a point of recognition for most Pisans.

The final element I have added to the design is the constellation Virgo above the canopy. This constellation will be present, literally, beyond the window in the western evening sky during the month of June which marks Ranieri’s festival.

Design for Pope Paul VI Window

Blessed Paul VI

The descending Spirit

I have chosen location 12 for the Pope Paul VI window. This place of honor above the altar is located directly opposite the East entry and will be prominent for the viewer upon entry to the Baptistry.
The windows in location 12 & 13 were a pair and have different proportions from the rest of the cycle.
Panel in location 13

For this reason, I closely matched the proportions of the figure, border, and upper panel to the existing panel 13. The borders of these panels depict architectural ornamentation alternating in whites and deep gold.
Pope Paul VI rendering
Pope Paul VI leadline

The Figure of Paul VI

The main elements in the design:

  • Pope Paul VI is shown in a reserved and stately pose, with clasped hands.
  • He wears a rich red and white clothing. His outfit was sourced from many photographic references taken during his lifetime.
  • His crucifix and papal ring are prominent.
  • He gazes out to the viewer with formal dignity.
  • An inset medallion references the XVII Congresso Eucaristico Nazionale which took place in Pisa Giugno 1965

The lower panel and upper panels

The lower panel is dedicated to the Pope’s coat of arms. It fills the entire frame to match the treatment of the coat of arms in Panel 13.
In the original pair of windows in location 12 & 13 the upper panels presented the viewer two prominent circular elements which each had a white Pisan Cross with a gold architectural background.

Rather than replicating a white cross I have chosen to present a white dove with outstretched wings to compliment the cross shape in panel 13. This descending dove is deliberately reminiscent of the well-known Holy Spirit dove window in the Vatican. It is particularly well suited for the baptistry. The story of the dove appearing at Christ baptism by John will be alluded to. Window 12 is located directly behind baptismal font and above the head of the statue of St. John. The dove in this window will remind the viewer of the promise of the Spirit through the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Design for Pope John Paul II Window

Saint John Paul II

The Pope’s Blessing of Peace

I have chosen to place the Pope John Paul II window in location 15. My reason for this is because the figure's overall light clothing and complexion will show up better in this northwest facing window, which receives no direct sunlight.

To compliment the remaining panels, I have chosen to base my design for window 15 on the frame and canopy of the window in location 7. This window is in the mirror position directly across the gallery. The adjacent panels in location 8 & 16 also mirror each other. This is an important element which respects the original architectural program.

Pope John Paul II rendering
Pope John Paul II leadline

The Figure of John Paul II

John Paul II is the most contemporary figure in the new stained glass program. The placement of this figure in this location 7 completes a thematic cycle for the viewer as they exit the baptistery through the North doorway.

The design will feature these elements: 
  • Pope John Paul II is portrayed in windswept golden robes, as he so often addressed people in the outdoors.
  • His upturned hand offers a blessing

The lower panel and upper panels

The lower panel features a representation of the Madonna of Czestochowa to which the pope had a special connection.  This icon is flanked by John Paul’s blue and gold coat of arms and a shield with the Eagle of Warsaw.

In the canopy above, a white dove of peace, as if just released, flies in the direction of the heart of the town of Pisa.